Enhancing the urban quality of life (QoL) is an explicit policy goal of many countries, yet it is rarely studied using models that relate objective measures of the urban environment to the subjective evaluations of residents. It thus often remains unclear how planning interventions in the urban environment may influence residents’ satisfaction with their living conditions. In particular, during periods of significant urban growth, such as those recently observed in Switzerland, which result in diverse, unwanted threats to the local QoL (e.g., loss of green spaces, traffic congestions, and fear of crime). This study uses data from a sample of 1,693 residents that participated in a postal survey about urban QoL. The responses were combined with objective attributes of residential conditions, using geographic information systems. Structural equation models were calibrated to examine the direct and indirect effects of important indicators of urban QoL, namely safety in public spaces and access to central urban facilities. The study sheds further light on the mediating effects between objective characteristics and subjective evaluations that influence the urban QoL. The results showed predominantly low correlations between objective characteristics and subjective evaluations of urban QoL, which confirmed the findings of the few previous studies on this topic. Surprisingly, this study also found a strong link between objective access and perceived accessibility. This relation was explained by the spatial scope of the study region and suggested that the scale discordance theory should be tested in future research. The findings implied that variations in objective measures do not reliably represent differences as evaluated by residents.

Urban quality of life, Structural equation model, Safety Accessibility, GIS, Switzerland
dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11205-014-0682-y, hdl.handle.net/1765/125250
Social Indicators Research: an international and interdisciplinary journal for quality-of-life measurement

von Wirth, T., Grêt-Regamey, A., & Stauffacher, M. (2015). Mediating effects between objective and subjective indicators of urban quality of life: testing specific models for safety and access. Social Indicators Research: an international and interdisciplinary journal for quality-of-life measurement, 120, 189–210. doi:10.1007/s11205-014-0682-y